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[ technical difficulties ] and tacking locations of millions of phones to pinpoint the months of individuals under surveillance. this is just the latest look into america's surveillance methods disclosed by the former nsa contractor, edward snowden.
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for months now through published snowden's revelations, we have seen how far into the pockets and computers of ordinary americans u.s. intelligence agencies are able to reach. many of the methods came with the undisclosed assistce of major tech companies. >> companies like google, facebook, apple, microsoft, they provide the nsa direct access to the back ends of all of the systems you used to store data, to put things in the cloud, and even second birthday wishes. and they give nsa direct access that they don't need to oversee. >> these businesses are long complied with legal obligations to hand over certain information about suspicious customers. but revelations of data
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gathering without the company's knowledge has lead these tech ts to rethink their obligations. microsoft's general council spoke this week on the official company blog, many of our customers have serious concerns about government surveillance of the internet. we share their concerns, that's why we are taking legal steps to ensure governments use process rather than brute force to access customer data. we areess specially alarmed by recent articles in the press to sir couple event online security measures. google, twitter yahoo and now microsoft have expressed concerns over surveillance and are changing encryption technology they employ to
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protect their customers. public outcry is another motivating factors into companies putting up this latest firewall. a recent abc "washington post" policies -- [ technical difficulties ] [ technical difficulties ] nsa spying is changing the way governments approach security too. brazilian companies are forcing foreign companies to redesign
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their servers to ensure all brazilian data does not leave the country. >> translator: i think this is an important moment. we are taking this attitude of wanting increased internet privacy in line with what we have already done, advocating for increased privacy. all recognized organizations concerned with this matter of governance and by our own work here in recent years. >> meanwhile in germany, the foreign minister demanded an explanation from visiting congressmen as well as a clear path forward in dealing with the american surveillance program. >> we know that trust has been lost, and we work together on rebuilding this trust. this means two points are in the focus of our efforts transparency for the past, and
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clear routes for the future. we all know that the right balance between security and privacy is necessary and this is exactly the spirit in which we will have our conversations. >> since 9/11 the united states has been trying to balance the duty to protect citizens with simultaneously protecting civil liberties. can you be a good corporate citizen here and abroad and protect your customers without threatening the bottom line? ♪ joining us to talk about how private companies and foreign governments are responding to concerns about nsa spying are matt sledge, national security reporter for the "huffington post," chris for the american
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civil liberties union, and soesh your associate dean of international business and finance. he is the author of "the slow pace of fast change." >> chris what do these latest reach, the capacity of the nsa that we didn't know before? >> the nsa has an enormous appetite to collect information. they have been able to compel u.s. technology companies tohand over information about individual users, but then they have also vacuumed up vast amounts of data, and taken advantage of the fact that tech companies have not secured the connections between the customer and the tech company or the tech company servers at their facilities. so that has allowed the nsa to do dragnet searches, for people who say things in instant
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messages or have online activities, those are the most problematic, because they are the ones that are analyzing people's traffic not based orn them being a target but based on them being a target online. >> do these stories tell us something new, chuck? >> i think it tells the general public something new in terms of the degree to which the nsa can monitor what we do on the internet and the privacy of our own homes and offices. however, at the back of our heads we kind of -- most of us are kind of aware that american intelligence services do have the ability to know more than our noses, and we have given them the license to do that. so the extent to which they can do surveillance is new. the fact that they do surveillance is obvious.
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>> matt sledge, what about the response from the companies? is this a new chapter in this continuing saga? the back and forth between the people who carry all of these to snoop on them? >> yeah, i do think things are changing, and a lot of it is coming from customers not just here the u.s., but in other countries, especially when they are dealing with any sort of cloud computing, or software, they want to know that their other countries are suspicious, i would say probably naturally suspicious now of american tech companies. and some have always been fairly good stewards of their customers, and others, and chris has always called them out by name, have not used encryption when they should, and are now being shamed into it. i would like to add, though, th that -- we shouldn't just be
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thinking about these big name tech companies, we should also think about the telecom companies, our cell phone companies, the people that provide internet cables. they seem to be working with the nsa too. we don't know as much about how closely, and we haven't heard much from them. >> i think that's an important distinction, isn't it? earlier on in the time line we hard that a lot of companies of all different types both service providers and the ones that provide the pipelines you might say, were responding to warrants, responding to requests, responding to channels through which the government attempted to obtain this information. and now even when they are not being asked -- i guess even when the federal government does it, it's a hack, isn't it? >> in many cases these
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cable -- the -- the people who have -- who run the tubes for lack of a better word that the internet runs on are willingly cooperating with the nsa, and there's not been much accountability for them. i think in -- in large part because they are not really consumer facing, and you or i don't really have a choice when it comes to who's pipe or tube our data is being sent over. >> i think that's an important juncture in our conversation, and when we come back, we'll talk about the response we have seen from the companies this week. this is "inside story," state with us.
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welcome back to "inside story," i'm ray suarez. they are not comfortable with the government surveillance of their phones and internet activity. the big companies know it, and are tightening security, but is there a sense that even if they do, if they put up new walls and barriers that the nsa will just find ways around them and rifle through the data anyway? >> technology by its very nature has the ability to, you know, new level. so you can put up walls, and then there will be new technologies that can pierce those walls or get around them. so i certainly think there are walls that will be put up. and the different companies have put up walls of different
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so if you think about google and more recently twitter, they have put on technical -- technology called perfect forward secrecy. so the companies themselves haven't completely sort of put up the highest possible walls, because it is expensive. so they are basically checking it out to see how far they can go without having to incur a whole lot of expense. the nsa or the government can always go to other places. they can go to telecom companies or go to wireless locations. >> chris that's the technological state of play, what about the parallel track of the legal world? there must be a response to what is going on in this matter.
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>> i'm a technologist and what we just heard isn't necessarily true. yahoo has just announced they will be securing their customer's information in january of next year -- >> wait a minute, any security at all -- is that like an relative term -- >> if you were sitting at starbucks and you are logging in to your yahoo account, the person next to you can see what you are doing and hack into your account with the most trivial tools. yahoo has ignored calls to protect their system, and the company has been dragging their feet. certainly the nsa will find a way in if they need to in the future, but there have been the most pathetic of security that was used and by moving to where they said they are going, that
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will make life very, very difficult. the american government only the only government in the spying business, and yaw and google and facebook, their services are used by governments around the world, and in many cases by governments who have truly atrocious records on human rights. these companies have started to step up in the area of security, and that will make dragnet surveillance of people far more difficult, and if the nsa wants to, it can hack into an individual user's computer. it can break into someone's house and install a camera, but this security will make life more difficult for dragnet surveillance. >> it won't slow down the operation of the internet? >> no, everyone wins here. and the perfect form secrecy that google and twitter have
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rolled out is more efficient than the older form of encryption. this really is technology where everyone gets to have their cake and ate it too. the nsa doesn't get to have their cake, but everyone else gets to have their cake. unfortunately, the telcos are not doing the same thing. the companies who offer us our wireless telephone service have awful track records on security, and no matter what gets printed on the front page of the newspaper, they are not stepping up their game. in many ways they are in bed with the government. and five years ago verizon even argue it has a first amendment right to share its information with the nsa. >> matt are those important distinctions for you. we on the consumer side tend to think of these people as all on
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the same team but these are different kinds of companies. >> yeah, i think it's really important for us as customers to be willing to put pressure on companies. it's difficult in a market like cell phone -- cell phones, where there are only a handful of providers and their networks are really inoperable. chris says they can't be shamed, and, you know, i would say i guess keep trying. >> we need to take a break. when we come back, we'll talk about where the different interests lie, and if you can't tell the players without a scorecard, we'll try to give you that scorecard. stay with us. this is "inside story." tñ
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[ te chnical difficulties ] they have to show that the they are angry, and they -- they have to make public decorations that they are going to not have american prying eyes. so we are finding out now that brazil has got initiatives in play to create its own service systems that goes from brazil to russia. can you imagine they are planning to trust the russians with their own fiber optic cable? this whole issue to my mind has been blown way out of proportion. this is an issue that should not
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belong to the front page. why aren't we upset that google wishes me happy birthday on my birthday? why are -- >> google cannot arrest you. google cannot kill you. google cannot send a drone to your house. >> apparey amazon is going to be sending a drone to my house. so i think that this entire issue -- why are we so concerned about the government knowing more -- >> i'm just about out of time. i'm going to have to stop you there, but that question is one we will definitely come back to on the show and hopefully we'll have you back. that brings us to the end of this edition of "inside story." in washington, i'm ray suarez.
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thanks for watching. welcome bah al jazeera america. i'm stephanie sy here are the stories we're following for you. >> god thank you for the gift of [ inaudible ]. thank you for watchi watching -- letting us know we can become. >> across the globe people are celebrating the life of nelson mandela. a new report reveals the jobs picture is brightening, and unemployment is falling. and a major ice storm sweeps across the

Inside Story
Al Jazeera America December 6, 2013 11:30am-12:01pm EST

News/Business. Ray Suarez brings together newsmakers and insiders to offer perspectives on the issues of the day. (CC) (Stereo)

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